When 20-year climbing veteran Zeke Federman started a rock-climbing guide service, he needed to situate its headquarters someplace that was more than simply rocky. The spot he settled on falls squarely in Joshua Tree National Park—an area boasting a varied landscape and steady climate that is friendly to year-round mountaineering and offers challenging routes to both beginners and experienced climbers with their own pet mountain goats. Zeke's climbing academy, Joshua Tree Guides, sets its students loose on guided excursions across the region's higher-altitude cliffs. His staff of Professional Climbing Guides Institute–trained guides has won points with clients for combining an easygoing demeanor with a serious attentiveness to safety and the needs of beginners to go slowly. In addition to small groups, the company has also guided successful climbing outings for large corporations such as Google and Frito-Lay.
Every summer, the Trans-Sierra Club takes four groups on a 75-mile trek, across their namesake mountain range to the highest altitude peak in the contiguous United States: Mount Whitney. The mountain measures 14,500 feet high, and while it has been summited by more than one fifth grader, don't be fooled. The route to the top is far from child's play. Participants must hike 8-12 miles a day and carry their own food and camping gear. However, the spectacular views—and the sense of accomplishment—that await at the summit are worth the sweaty journey.
Fresno Kickboxing Academy schools young fighters in the subjects of muscles, speed, and coordination during a four-day, noncontact MMA sports-training camp. Kids ages 8–17 train in the 12,000-square-foot private sports gym under the watchful eye of a staff of expert instructors, which may include former wrestlers, MMA fighters, or extras from The Karate Kid. During each three-hour session, coaches lead students through a warm-up and nutrition discussion, as well as workouts based on muay thai, American-style boxing, jujitsu, and wrestling. The fully equipped facility boasts an Olympic-size mat, complete weight room, and professional punching-bag rack, good for finessing fist throws or practicing do-si-dos. Check the schedule for dates.
Tami Phillips knows that it's important for kids to receive education for the body as well as the mind. An M.A. in exercise science, she applies her expertise at Kids Moving Incorporated, a nonprofit dedicated to fortifying children with a strong physical education. During Kids Moving's programs, children split their time between exercises and games. Instructors teach cardio, core training, and conditioning exercises set to music, emphasizing the value of working hard and feeling the results. Games, such as tag and Ultimate, foster cooperation and the discipline not to fetch a frisbee with your teeth.
Certified dance instructors Pete Swingle and Carmen Ahmen relish the challenge of curing extra left feet. They welcome total beginners to their salsa classes, where their patience and supportive attitudes help students feel comfortable enough to pull off the hip-swaying steps. In the interest of steadily progressing students to intermediate and advanced moves, they set up specific goals for each level, ranging from "step in time" to "twirl your partner without having to rely on shoes made of roombas.” They teach disciplines apart from salsa as well, including cha-cha, cumbia, and merengue.
Though learning show-stopping techniques is one of the core benefits of their lessons, Pete and Carmen also hope to reward protégés with the additional perks of dancing, including stress relief, improved muscle tone, and new friendships. Sunday dance socials focus on the latter ambition by gathering dancers for practice in a party setting, which sometimes features live percussion shows and music giveaways.
Under one roof, Sunnyside has all the tools its members need to get fit and enjoy themselves in the process. Group fitness classes give participants a way to try a variety of workout styles, and personal trainers are on hand to help members maximize their time, whether they're running on a treadmill or using it as a napping bench. The cardio theater supplies a variety of sweat-inducing options, and saunas provide a place to recuperate and let your muscles cry after a good workout.